Donna Finch Adams, of Denison, has studied, taught, lectured, inspired, created, lived, and breathed art for nearly 50 years. It flows through her veins, along side her blood cells, regenerating new inspiration when needed. Her preferred expression of these inspirations is through acrylic on canvas but she’s been known to dabble into other mediums as well.
"Each piece is a learning experience! I did one painting years ago that still is asking me questions. I have kept it because it still intrigues me. It obviously came from some deep place I've yet to find," Adams said.
She has lived in Denison for the past 15 years in one of the historical buildings on Main Street. A current professor of art at Southeastern Oklahoma University since 2006, she taught at Grayson Community College before that.
Her current exhibit, YRAM, is on display for Art in The Hall, a collective event between Denison City Hall and The Denison Arts Council. Linda Anderson approached Adams last spring for a show this fall.
"She is very persuasive, so I agreed having no idea about what was to happen in my life," said Adams.
The exhibit is mostly paintings that are emotive, dark, and organic in color and shape. There are a few works on wood at the entry, pieces salvaged from her homes’ restoration. These pieces she drew on, sanded, destroyed, painted and started all over again until she had a result she was happy with. Adams hopes that the public sees the work as Art first and will be intrigued. Yet, the story behind the paintings is fascinating if not a bit supernatural.
Adams spends each summer in Europe with her younger daughter Mary. There she teaches and studies as well as brings back inspiration from her trips to share with her students at Southeastern. When COVID-19 spread, shutting down the world, she was forced to cancel her tickets. In May her daughter called to tell her she had been diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer.
"After a month of pathology testing she had surgery to remove the breast. I felt trapped here, and she there, so I started painting whatever came out of my fingers--no sketches, no designing. I had not painted since my husband died. During the month before her surgery I did very large dark paintings. I was using shapes, forms that I had no idea what they were about until she told me about all of the testing and what they were finding," said Adams
The mother/ daughter bond showed its strength through these times. The doctors couldn’t find the bulk of the tumors, but only strings of them that were hiding in her milk glands and down the ducts, making it hard to identify. Adams intuited her paintings creating forms that were round and tubal shaped. As she communicated with Mary through after her surgery they found there were more paintings that seemed linked to Mary’s experience.
"I did several more paintings as she was undergoing the surgery and in intensive care. I only had what the doctors told her partner. He called me and let me know what was happening because of the COVID restrictions at the hospital. I got to Skype with her when she got home. She was hooked up to drainage tubes that were red and green. I had already done two paintings that had red and green streaming down. I showed them to her and she showed me the tubes running into green sacks. It had been a very strange experience," Adams said.
She admits that she has many more paintings, but was limited due to space restrictions. Mary has recovered from her surgery and his scheduled for reconstructive surgery.
"YRAM is, of course, Mary backward and is the word, I found out later, for "blessed one" in Ghana. For years Mary supported charities in Africa that benefit women. It is a very strange circle--everything coming back, around, over, through without a plan," she said.
The YRAM Series is on display at Denison City Hall. It opened Sept. 2 and will close on Jan. 13. Denison City Hall is located at 300 W. Main St. in Denison and is open Monday- Friday 8 A.M – 5 P.M.